Empowering youth and equipping educators to recognize and respond to teen trafficking.
Thousands of US minors are victims of trafficking each year. The FBI has rescued over 1,500 kids through their Innocence Lost initiatives in the last few years. They believe they are just scratching the surface. Unfortunately, these numbers are from just one law enforcement initiative and serve as solid indicators that child trafficking and sexual exploitation is an enormous problem in the US.
Empower Youth is a mixed media prevention program using film, photography, and artifacts to teach students and educators how to recognize and respond to teen trafficking. We interactively answer the questions: What is trafficking? Who is a trafficker? Who are the targets? and What are the tactics? The material is packed with tools resulting in self, peer, and adult identification.
There are three aspects of the program. The first is our high school assembly event currently being piloted. Next, we are close to completing a teacher led version for the classroom or small groups. We will wrap up development with a five session unit that can be integrated into a school’s health curriculum or added to existing at-risk youth outreaches.
The prevention program is not just about protecting girls. It is also about addressing demand and pimp culture among male teens. In December, four alleged ring leaders and 10 others were arrested on trafficking charges. They are accused of running an underage prostitution network that transported four girls around Colorado including the cities of Denver, Boulder, Glenwood Springs, and even Grand Junction. Some of the men are barely out of high school with ages ranging from 18 to early 20’s. Most of them attended Denver metro schools as did their victims (Denver Post). The indictment listed 70 charges against the 14 suspects (Read the indictment).
Our response was to aggressively finish our high school assembly program. Our first assembly was co-hosted by Adams City High School in Commerce City, CO, and the Friends First mentoring program where over 300 teens from all over the Denver metro were bussed in. Our mixed media program teaches students and educators how to recognize and respond to teen trafficking. The assembly proved to have a strong impact on the kids, teachers, and volunteers.
National Impact - We have engaged over 1,000 students in Colorado and Los Angeles and are working on Detroit, Dallas, and Atlanta. We are targeting strategic cities, schools, and existing at-risk youth programs with a focus on the worst US cities for trafficking minors. The program is being evaluated by many of our amazing colleagues who are experts in diverse ways.
If you are interested in participating in the pilot program or helping fund this project please Contact us.